Capece: Remembering the decade through sports
Colin Capece | Monday, December 9, 2019
It’s hard for me to believe that the semester is already coming to a close, and it’s even harder for me to believe that the turn of the decade is suddenly upon us. It’s customary for us to reminisce at significant milestones like the one rapidly approaching, observing who we were 10 years ago, and who we have become over the last decade. While I have changed a great deal from the 9-year-old I was at the beginning of the decade to the 19-year-old I am at its close, one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for sports and their captivating, awe-inspiring power.
I can think of no better way to remember this past decade than through great sports moments. The criteria for these were that they simply had to be moments that I immediately recalled when I thought about each sport, thus validating them as memorable. For me, that probably means they were a remarkable feat of athleticism, had a great backstory or both. Without further ado:
Malcolm Butler’s interception in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks (2015): I mean, it’s hard to forget this first one. Marshawn Lynch is still mad he didn’t get the ball at the goal line, but give credit to Butler for recognizing and jumping Jermaine Kearse’s route. Despite my despair at another New England Super Bowl victory, Butler did go undrafted out of a Division II college.
Santonio Holmes’ catch in the Super Bowl against the Cardinals: I thought this would count off the top of my head, but it actually happened in 2009. Anyway, I remember watching this game with my dad, and we both couldn’t believe he made this game-sealing touchdown grab. It seemed physically impossible. Roethlisberger fit the ball between three defenders, and Holmes somehow dragged his toes to stay in bounds.
The Butt Fumble (2012): This really needs no explanation. As a lifelong Jets fan however, I will say that I wasn’t even mad. I thought it was hysterical.
Cubs win the World Series (2016): 108 years. That’s all I really need to say. Game 7 was also an instant classic.
David Freese’s walk off homer in Game 6 of the World Series (2011): Hometown kid hits a walk-off bomb in the bottom of the 11th to send the Cardinals to Game 7. He also hit a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth with St. Louis one strike away from elimination.
David Wright’s home run in Game three of the World Series (2015): This one is more sentimental for me. The Mets’ captain had endured some of the worst years in franchise history only to be diagnosed with spinal stenosis in the year the team finally got to the Fall Classic. Watching my childhood hero absolutely demolish an inside fastball over the left field wall on the biggest stage actually brought tears to my eyes.
Linsanity (2012): Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to take over New York for a few weeks, scoring 38 against Kobe and the Lakers at the Garden and drilling a buzzer-beater in Toronto. The best thing to happen to the Knicks this decade.
Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals (2019): Talk about a friendly bounce. Kawhi has always been one of my favorite players for his robot mentality, but watching Board Man let out all of his emotion after hitting this game winner will forever be etched in my memory.
Sidney Crosby wins the Gold Medal game in overtime for Team Canada (2010): I have never been a big hockey guy, but I get pretty into it when my country is being represented. Zach Parise’s tying goal with 24 seconds left made me believe, but Crosby’s goal to win it for the host country broke my heart.
Katie Ledecky dominates in Rio (2016): Most Americans, myself included, care about swimming for two weeks every four years, but Ledecky had an unforgettable performance, winning gold in all of her individual races. She got so bored she started breaking her own records.
Michael Phelps returns to glory (2016): Phelps seemed larger than life after his record breaking Beijing Olympics in 2008, but his fall from grace was rapid after London 2012. Everyone loves a great comeback story, and Phelps inspired me with his perseverance to overcome his demons and ultimately ride off into the sunset as the most decorated athlete at the Rio games.
Kris Jenkins’ three beats the buzzer to win the national championship for Villanova (2016): Marcus Paige’s shot on the preceding possession to tie the game for UNC may have been even more incredible. But I will forever remember Jim Nantz’s call: “Arcidiacono, to Jenkins, for the championship!”
Villanova dominates to win its second national title in three years (2018): I just remember how good the Wildcats were from wire to wire that year. Their insanely efficient offense ran like clockwork. I can’t remember them missing a shot in the first half of the title game against Michigan.
Landon Donovan sends the U.S. to the Round of 16 at the World Cup (2010): Go Go USA! The captain’s rebound goal in the dying moments of the U.S.’s final group stage game against Algeria sent them to the knockout rounds and inspired the nation.
John Brooks comes on late to lift the U.S. past Ghana at the World Cup (2014): Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was pushing all the right buttons at the time, and Brooks was no exception. The super sub headed home a corner kick in the 86th minute to give the U.S. a 2-1 victory and ultimately help them survive the group of death.
Gareth Bale scores an incredible bicycle kick goal in the Champions League Final against Liverpool (2018): Bale was fun to watch in his prime, but he turned back the clock to score this acrobatic stunner after coming on as a sub. Still the best goal I have ever witnessed live.
Tiger Woods wins the Masters (2019): I have cared about golf for exactly three hours in my life. But when Tiger is on the prowl, you tune in. Also a great comeback story. No matter his transgressions, I think we can all learn from Tiger that we should be grateful for what we have because it can easily be taken away when we least expect it.
Notre Dame’s fourth-down stop in overtime against Stanford (2012): I don’t care how many times Alabama won a championship this decade. This will always be the greatest college football memory I have. Doesn’t get much better than a goal line stand in the pouring rain to beat your rival and keep a dream season alive.
So there you have it. Here’s to another decade of great sports moments!
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.